Wednesday, November 17, 2010


In my endeavors with leadership at Drake I came across a book which has done wonders for me. It’s your Ship by Captain Abrashoff would be on my must read to lead list. One of the simple and effective notions discussed is validation. Everyone, regardless of your job, likes to know they are appreciated. The best leaders will take time to make sure they have face time with everyone in the organization to at genuinely thank them for what they do. I had this experience working in the admissions department, where I am the lowest ranked person. I do clerical work. If you are reading this as a prospective student, chances are any mailing you received, I and my cohorts of minimum wage earners assembled. A few days ago the head-honcho of our entire department came into our room. There is generally no reason to be in our room-other than the coffee machine, but he is on a different floor, and presumably has an office big enough for his own coffee machine. He stopped by just to say hello, chat with us and then at the end thanked us for what we were doing. Is what we do glorious work, no, its mundane, but it is sincerely appreciated by the top brass and knowing that helps ease the monotony. Imagine if the general came in to talk to privates just to say hey I really appreciate the work you are doing for this organization. Chances are they would remember that.
Instill validation in your own leadings. Every man in the fraternity was asked to give me the addresses and birthdays of his parents/guardians. On those birthdays I send a card from all of us brothers. At the end I always put in something about their son that I appreciate, an idea I borrowed from the book. I, like Captain Abrashoff, had a member come to me and thank me for sending that, and his father told him that he was proud of him, which didn’t happen often. It was a fantastic feeling.

Friday, November 5, 2010

All the Small Things

Last night was a pretty cool evening. In fact this whole year has delivered many “I love college” moments.
Millions of years ago Greek Life stood for building better men and women and fraternal bonds with everyone. One of the ways this was shown to the sorority women was through serenades. Every Greek organization has a sweetheart song (ours is the Rose of Pi Kappa Phi.) Serenades have evolved into a song written about the sorority followed up by the sweetheart song. This allows for as much creativity and fun as possible. Last night was probably the best one we have ever done. Ironically there were only three of us to serenade the women of Kappa Alpha Theta. The other houses easily all had at least 20 guys. We went 2nd to last and walked into the room packed with probably 80 Theta girls. I set down the plastic Rock Band drum set while Alex and Ben strapped up their guitar hero guitars. We hit play on the ipod and went into a Theta specific version of Blink 182’s All the Small Things (All the Thetas.) We rocked it and had the sorority girls up on their feet jumping around and rocking out. Then the three of us dropped to our knee and barber shop quarteted (new word) our Sweetheart Song. This is the first time Pi Kappa Phi took first in a serenade.
Shortly after I put on a suit and tie and argued before the entire Student Senate for their endorsement of Drake Sportsmen’s club to give student a venue to learn how to safely enjoy firearms. It also went brilliantly. It has been quite some time before I have argued before a large group (mock trial high school) and it is still a rush. Not bad for a Thursday night.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Take it Easy

Four bands exist on my bucket list. In no particular order: Green Day, Blink 182, Jimmy Buffett, and the Eagles. I recently got to check off one, which puts me at 50%.
Friday evening I was out with a buddy hanging out with more buddies, doing buddy things. After sinking a remarkable shot, I checked my phone. The text message I had received read the following: Sunday evening, would you be my guest at the Eagles if you don’t have anything to do?”
The implications of that text made my weekend. In fact this last month has been fantastic! (Marathon, Eagles, Birthday, making use of 21st birthday)
There have been many times in my life when the Eagles have given much much comfort. This past summer, sitting on the beach south of the Suez I was switching between Jimmy and the Eagles, and it was simply amazing. As I sat in the Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines, the same feeling swept over. In fact I generally have this rather stupid looking smug on my face when I become extremely happy and excited. My cheeks hurt from 3 hours of smiling. The most magical moment was when my favorite song came on: Take it to the limit, one more time…

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Visitors n Shakes

Big news at Drake: yesterday Obama came to the residence of our Athletic director, and was even quoted as saying “Go Bulldogs.” (There is reason enough to come to Drake.) Today Justice Scalia is coming to give a lecture. (Long time readers will remember Roberts my first year.) Tomorrow is fireworks! It should all be a pretty cool week.
I went to Drake Diner last night. If you ever find yourself near Drake, in Des Moines or West of the Mississippi, you need to stop at Drake Diner for the shakes. Chocolate and Peanut Butter milkshake is guaranteed to cure any school stress and may also be linked to the elixir of life.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"When you photograph people in color you photograph their clothes. But when you photograph people in B&W, you photograph their souls!" ~Ted Grant

A friend and I explored Des Moines the other day, this is probably my favorite shot of our time together. As I am currently stateside, the musings here will lose some of their "frontline" flavor. I hope to replace them with different photographs of my travels and the Drake area. Enjoy!

Monday, August 16, 2010

here we go again

I am now entering my junior year at Drake. This semester will be marked with new struggles and triumphs. I hope to be able to share most with you. This semester will also have an underlying tone (keeping with the theme) of gearing up for going abroad for the semester. The spring semester will find me in Alexandria Egypt, away from the cold Iowa winter, speaking Arabic and enjoying argeelah, on the Mediterranean sea.
The struggles coming up will revolve around fraternity life, transitioning to being an upperclassmen, finding a job, and the normal college “stuff.”
Wednesday marks one of the events I am most proud of for Drake, First Year Move-in. About 800 first years are coming in. They will park their minivans and u-hauls by the side of the road to check in. When they come out with room assignment and keys, an army of upperclassmen will descend on them to carry their stuff up. This is how we welcome them to the Drake family. (Generally we can get it all with one run of folks.) Everyone helps out, from the Greeks, the religious groups, the service groups, the academic groups. One of my favorite stories from last year goes something like this:
New First year mother is in happy shock from the support and help her son was receiving. There was about one more load and an older man in the same move-in crew t-shirts as the rest of the teams bent down to help carry it. The mother asked if he was a Res Hall coordinator of some sort. He replied “Ma’am it is a pleasure to meet you, my name is President Maxwell.”
Everyone helps.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Gone Fishin'

The trip is over. I am one twelve hour flight from Chicago, a three hour drive home, and hopefully a large amount of Wisconsin 2% milk. I am in Istanbul airport right now. This is a much smaller version of the international Mecca that is Heathrow. A few differences I noticed while in the open air (it’s raining, which is an enjoyable change) smoking lounge enjoying one of Cuba’s finest that I can’t bring back into my homeland include the lack of English being spoken by the smokers. Judging by the stereotypes of the 20 or so folks enjoying their nicotine fix I was the only American. Once again, abroad and alone like the desert, or my latest adventure in Egypt: the sea.
We got up before the call the prayer. As the 3,000+ Imams of the mosques were getting ready to climb the stairs of their minarets(or more realistically, turn on the microphone) that would cascade over a sleeping Cairo for the morning prayer, we were on a bus headed northeast to Ein Soukna, the area just south of the Suez Canal. Upon arrival we stowed our gear, and many people took advantage of the natural cradle provided by a marriage of our ship the Prince Omar, and the Red Sea. Those of us that were awake threw lines off the stern for the two hour journey to the fishing spot in the middle of the Red Sea. Large cargo and oil ships heading into or out of the Suez surrounded us. I imagine this is what Lord Nelson felt like on a daily basis with control of a massive armada. Our mission was less imperialistic. We were going to conquer the sea in the form of a noble and long lasting tradition and join the Somalian pirates further down the coast in a calling that Captain Jack Sparrow would be proud of: fishing. Gone Fishin’.
A boy becomes a man when one thing happens in his life: he is too big for the bathtub. The fierce naval battles I waged in-between rinse and repeat could have easily been taking place around me with the vast amount of shipping we saw. Once we reached our spot we reveled in the fact that we were between Africa and Asia.
Two things have always existed: Allah and Egypt. Both have continuously stood the test of time. God has always been worshiped in Egypt, though sometimes in a plural form. The religious devotion the Egyptians have had whether it be the Pharaohs or the Copts and Muslims is something I really admired. It was a hell of trip. I was a little “templed and tombed” out by the end but really glad to have seen almost all of Egypt.
On our last night I had the best hookah of my life. This was at a café in our new neighborhood where we were for the last 4 days. Zamalek is very much like Wisconsin Ave in D.C. It is chalk full of embassies and Victorian style buildings. It is quiet with many perfect and hidden cafes. At the last one of these, where I increased my affection for shisha, I managed to enjoy the bubbling smoke, a burger, tea and lemon juice for $12.00. Egypt was very inexpensive, unlike the current duty free areas I have been frequenting in order to be able to cash hard on the long flight from Istanbul to Chicago.
Hopefully I can find some inspiration above the clouds and get in a final post. A lack of a drinking age at 35,000 feet may help. Just kidding. See you soon.

Monday, May 31, 2010

I'm on a boat

This last week has been a blur. Apologies for not staying up to date but we have gone from the very northern end in Alexandria all the way to Lake Nasser in the south via train. We just trained it back to Cairo and are now finishing this whirlwind vacation at a resort by the Red Sea.
Alexandria was a very classy town. The people were much better mannered than Cairo. It was also older and the romance of the sea seemed to bring out a lighter side of folks. Interestingly enough I got some of my best people shots there, mostly of couples and families. The lack of public displays of affection that I have grown accustomed to between mix genders (not to be confused with the heterosexual “bro-mance” which runs rampant through this region) was completely shot as Alexandria appeared to be quite the romantic destination for Muslim and Arab couples of all ages. The hotel was very nice, as was the full glass of milk that I had at it.
We got to see the fort of Alexandria in which stood the lighthouse (one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, no longer standing) as well as the new Library of Alexandria. For a nerd such as myself, this was an epic sight to behold, and I am I am going to try to change my study abroad from Jordan Spring 2011, to Alexandria 2011. I got to link up with my Arabic teacher from the last year, Sarah and met her cousins and mother. That was a treat as well, and I will meet some of her other family shortly.
After Alexandria we got back to Cairo, and then got on a train for twelve hours to Aswan (the most southern real city in Egypt.) We saw the High Dam, which symbolized Nasser’s control of Egypt, played tons of political significance in ensuring his power, and tamed the Nile. As alluded to in previous posts we were on a cruise ship for 3 nights. This we took from Aswan to Luxor, visiting temples and tombs along the way. Every night we were in port I got to venture to a local café and continue my loyalty to the water-pipe. Shisha (the tobacco smoked from these aka hookah) is the best in the middle east. Were I in Maine, I am certain I would have lobster every night, Hawaii: fruits, Egypt: shisha. In luxor a big soccer game was on for the Egypt cup, so I went to a local café and made friends-in Arabic. It was really nice to just relax on the boat, get a little sun, and watched the Nile lazily passing by. My affinity for boats under sail also grew when we got to take a Felucca around the nile. Imagine a wide sailboat with an odd rigging for river running. It was glorious. I also managed to convince the captain to let me take a dip in the nile-2 km south of the High dam. This was really dumb as I lost the rope and drifted a bit for the boat to come pick me up. All that time treading water in swim lessons, gym, and ROTC came in handy. Regardless it was still really cool, as I have now swam at both ends of the Nile. (side note-Discovery channel does a pretty neat Imax about rafting the Nile from start to finish, passing by many of the areas we did).
The Valley of the Kings in Luxor contained the burial chambers for 60 kings. Admission ticket allows entrance into three. (King Tut’s had a huge line, and I had seen all the treasure in the Museum) I do not remember the three I went in, but it was definitely a bit of an odd feeling. In the last tomb, which was 1km deep, I was the only one in it. I kept checking over my shoulder to see a mummy running at me selling cheap tourist trinkets. The intricate drawings on the tombs and then the other temples we saw we interesting, but then tend to blend together. Seeing some of the old temples still brings awe as they are huge and no modern tools were used to build them.
In terms of safety the Israeli raid on a Gaza bound flotilla has been on our minds. However we are safe, and keeping our eyes open. I have full trust and confidence in our leadership. Our security has been strengthened (right now I am sitting next to a federal judge who is coming to the beach with us) so we will be fine and there is no cause for alarm. I hope the situation gets sorted out soon though.
Just less than a week left till I am back in the land of cheese curds and beer. The other day I had a McDonalds chocolate shake which ought to hold over my American fix. This has been a fantastic trip and I am hoping to end it with a safe bang. So far that looks like a fishing expedition at the Red Sea. If I find Nemo, I will let you know.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Jingle Bells

“Jingle bells, Jingle bells, jingle all the way…” There is nothing that makes the time go by faster in the desert than singing Christmas carols. We were divided up into a convoy of Land Rovers after a 5 hour drive to an oasis in the western desert. Then we drove another few hours stopping along the way to see the Black Desert, the Crystal Desert and eventually stopping in the White Desert to watch the sunset and build camp. Sunsets in the desert are always gorgeous and I strongly believe they are like first kisses: magical, memorable, and over far too quickly.
On our way to our destination we had to pass through a few checkpoints. I wonder who on earth a soldier has to piss off to get stationed in such a remote area to check tourist buses heading into the absolute middle of nowhere.
The sunsets are always amazing here. (Interruption-we are now sailing on the Nile underway on a 146 person cruise boat, of which I am part of the team of 20 of the 30 passengers who are sailing-it’s off season.) There is a scene in the original Star Wars movie when Luke is looking out over the double sunset of his native desert planet. This was much akin to that. The sunset would turn the desert sand a crimson red and give much reflection to the white mounds of rock in which the area derives it’s namesake.
Much of the area we were in appeared to be virgin desert. Wandering off a few hundred yards from camp I felt the true vast expanse and raw power of this place. Other than my team there was nothing and no one out here. I shot for a fair amount of the night, but under a very bright sun, and white reflective rocks it made for nothing spectacular in terms of beauty above the horizon. My real quest was my ever elusive star photography. This is a hobby I have taken a great interest in with the technical skill required, the luck needed, the inspiration and joy I and others get from seeing it, as well as the bonding it has allowed me to do with my father and friends.
I took a short nap as the moon started to set, only to be woken up around 4am covered in a blanket of stars. I couldn’t decide which there was more of: sand in the desert that was now my bed, or stars in the sky. My old friend the milky way also hung in sheer brilliance seductively straight-legged across the sky. I grabbed my camera and tripod and raced out a few hundred yards (perhaps a hundred too many) to a location I had scouted earlier, pausing for a moment to realize just how much these formations all look the same. I tested my shots and finally dialed my settings in for a perfect kill. I hit the shutter remote and stepped back. Realizing just how dumb I was racing out here without water, a light, my pack, or my sleeping mat I slowly followed my footprints back to camp to retrieve my belongs and settle in for a wonderful hour till the sun once again pulled away my starry blanket.
Walking back to camp, one of the brightest shooting stars etched the night sky with the brilliance and shine of Pharaoh’s jewelry. I gathered my belongings and put in my Ipod to my star playlist. Hiking back across the desert to my camera was akin to searching for a lighthouse on the coast. My camera had one small red light on the backside to show it was busy. This was my beacon, guiding me through the night. (don’t worry Dad, I had a pretty good idea where I was going.) Upon laying down next to my set-up as my camera went into dark frame I got to take in what this trip meant. This is the third time in my life I am back in this region, one that has always been a mystery to most Americans. Kids, and now at this point, young adults from Wisconsin do not go here, much less three times in 4 years. It was a real treat to get out of Cairo and be up amongst the vastness of the heavens. As my shot finished “Here comes the sun” came on. A rather fitting end.

Monday, May 24, 2010

King of the Road

It is 7:43 am. We got up for the first call to prayer at roughly 4:30, and then again at 5:50. Then we got all of our gear into the van-no small feat with 20 Drake students, professors, armed security detail, His Honor judge Zamir, and all of our water and snacks. We are now headed for a 4 hour ride to an oasis in the Eastern desert. Then it is a 5 hour ride (with stops) to go to our camp out in the desert. This is one of the most exciting parts of the trip for me and I have been prepping for the astrophotography possibilities for the past two days. It is also the reason I brought my tripod-which also acts as an international fist of diplomacy in the Turkish airport when I whipped around and almost took out a bunch of Turkish tourists. (‘Merica!) This is going to be a long car ride, and I already have “King of the Road” stuck in my head. Could be a very long trip.
Friday- We got off the bus at more pyramids, this time the first pyramids built. We were greeted with more people hawking cheap tourist stuff. As our lovely American women departed they were greeted with “want a postcard? Want a husband?” The pyramids were cool, and so were the tombs. The 2nd pyramid we saw was the most encased pyramid (none of the great pyramids have the casing still on-the Christians and Romans took all of it for construction, apparently the great pyramids were not deemed important then.) We got to go inside of it! This required a 100m climb up the outside, and then at a 45 degree angle in a shaft about 3 feet tall, descended another hundred meters into the heart of the pyramid. It rank of something foul in there (dead mummy and 3,000 years of tourist sweat probably doesn’t go well together.) On the way up, well they didn’t build an elevator. Therefore we went up the same, far too small, far too long shaft:
Ladies and Gentlemen I am copyrighting a new workout plan. Guaranteed to destroy your legs, all with minimal amounts of stale oxygen! Possible soreness exists for three days after. Call now and you can get two pyramid works for the price of one!
On the way back we had a great lunch, filled with grilled up meats. It was great. We were then taken to a place that had all different forms of juices (I got my first chocolate shake-it is a life goal of mine, to have a chocolate shake in every country) It is really nice to see our professors let loose a little and sitting around trying the different juices really bonded the team together.
That evening a few of us went downtown to smoke hookah and enjoy the downtown area. Chalk up milkshake number two! The conversation with out Egyptian guide eventually turned to 9/11. “I was shocked, we all were. We watched it live on the news!” At this moment “Allahu Ackbar” (The first part of the call to prayer-translations: God is Great) rang out across the city. It was very eerie considering the conversation.
Sat-another 8am start time. I am a morning person, but some of these nights go long. We went downtown to the citadel which is the oldest part of cairo built on a hill. Salahadin, the great General who kept the Christians out of Jerusalem during the crusades (history is a told a little different down here) built a massive and gorgeous mosque. We also visited to the Muhammad Ali (father of modern Egypt-not the boxer) mosque as well as the sultan Hasan Mosque (Obama came and gave a speech here a few months ago.) This was ripe with excellent photo opportunities and regardless of what religion one is, the sheer power and vastness of these buildings and the peace that exists in them is to be admired.
One of the best parts was both our guide and our professor taught everyone who wanted to how to perform the ritual washing to pray. One of the best things about these sorts of trips is the learning that happens as well as being able to see our professors in their elements. It makes them even more personable and exponentially increases the respect and camaraderie we all have for them.
In a nod to fellow academics, our professor talked to an architecture professor whose students were at the mosque drawing for their final. We then had a quick cultural exchange with students our own age.
In fast succession we went to two Coptic churches, one that the holy family stayed at for 3 months when they were in Egypt (when Jesus was young) as well as an old synagogue.
Then we got to go to the old market. We split up into teams and let loose. Some people got great bargains (I got a jersey for 6 bucks, down from 30) some people got ripped off, but we got to see downtown Cairo and barter with shop keepers. I also got a few Khartoushes. These were the name plate necklaces that Pharaohs wore to identify themselves. They also happen to make great gifts. For dinner we ate pigeon (one could still make out the fried head) before heading to a sufi dance. Sufis are the ones who twirl, and the main guy spin in a circle for 24 minutes.
Interruption-We are finally out of Cairo in a vast open desert with few stops. Imagine the flatness and boredom of I-80 in Iowa but sans corn and add a really big sandbox. I just saw a sign, in English for a vineyard. “Uncork a good story.” It was catchy, but not sure if a bottle of wine is going to be the right thing to have on this road-I have seen three accidents this morning, and one truck completely tipped over already. The judge who is in the row next to me, informed us that the truck drivers are generally stoned. Oh, of course, which makes us going 80 miles an hour passing them all the more safe.
Yesterday (Sunday-The Arab start of the week) After all the stress and hard rolling the past few days we decided to take a much needed vacation. We headed to the closest part of the Red Sea, just south of the Suez, then sat my ass on a beach and popped in the ipod under the sun. As Jimmy Buffet’s “Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes” blasted followed up by Eagles “Take it to the limit.” Excellent day at the beach capped off by fried fish.
My Arabic teacher from the previous year joined us for the trip. She got to interact with our team and really got to open up about life for women in Egypt.
Our other Professor brought his 2 year old along. This has been an excellent addition. It gives us a chance to interact with little kids, and really brings out the motherly side of our very female strong group. Walking through the market, many Arabs reached down to fluff her hair, and pat her shoulder. In the Coptic church, a procession of Copts came in as we were leaving. The eldest woman grabbed the young kid from the professors hands and kissed her on the cheek talking about how beautiful the girl was. I am not entirely sure the child appreciates it, but it is interesting to see the reverence and importance the Arabs put on young children.

It's now 10:15am and I am still singing King of the Road. We stopped off at a truck stop. Apparently it is another 2 hours until relief, but score! we brought snacks. The Judge is really interesting and really funny. Half the team is sleeping. I have a mobile upload for my laptop, so even though I can't see any other cars, and there is nothing but flat desert, I can tweet and facebook (or update this).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

See the pyramids along the nile

My room overlooks one of the busiest roads in Cairo. It still amazes me that there is so much damn traffic. (20 million people in Cairo alone). I have no idea what it is like on the other side of the street, as to find out would require a suicidal death wish and lots of skill at the game frogger.
Everywhere we go we have an undercover police escort. Secret service suit with an automatic weapon on his hip. They rotate every day and generally pretty cool guys but I have never had this kind of escort, so that is cool. (They will never have to be used, but generally keep the level of harassment down) We also had an actual police escort from the Airport to the hotel. Welcome to Egypt
Upon driving from the airport to hotel we got to pass a beautiful Mosque at night (which Obama spoke at a few months ago) as well as the old citadel. Then we took well deserved sleep to get up early Wednesday morning to go to the Museum.
While at the museum there were a ton of tourists. There was also an Egyptian college class that was having exams. The professor would call them all in individually to one of the large rooms and orally quiz them on anything in the museum. It looked really intense. The entire 2nd floor of the Egyptian Museum contains the finds from the tomb of King Tut. (Insert Steve martin clip-which was recited a fair amount of times-our guide had not seen it ☹) Seeing his golden mask was really cool. These are items we see in history books and National Geographic magazines all the time but are now just a few inches away.
As we were driving, and even from the roof of our hotel is the pyramids of Giza. One of the 7 wonders of the world, it is a real treat to always be so close to “the pyramids along the Nile…” The next day we would go exploring at the pyramids and the sphinx.
That evening we enjoyed a traditional Arabic dinner, on the Nile, with hookah. It was epic. As the sounds bubbles from the water pipes gently washed over us after a filling meal, a half moon started to kiss the Cairo landscape. It was toasted by my tea, which as memory will recall, is always fantastic in this region.
We got up and had breakfast and then hit the pyramids. They are huge, and gorgeous. It still amazes me that something so large was built a few thousand years ago, with minimally basic tools, sleds, and a lot o slave labor. Then we moved to the outer limits of the pyramids for a great view of all three, and many of our team rode camels-some for the first time. I got some decent pictures out of all this (I am still mad I didn’t bring a polarizing lens, the sun is pretty intense, though thankfully the heat hasn’t been bad at all…yet.) This was all followed up with a trip down the desert to the guardian of the three great pyramids: the sphinx. I still can’t get over the fact that I am standing only a few feet from these massive and famous structures. The pyramids can even be climbed over in certain parts.
The 2nd pyramid was open. We got to actually climb down into the burial chamber. This was a very long and narrow chamber as one is supposed to come to the dead king on their knees, so for Jeff and I-both of whom are 6’2 it was a little tight. Still very cool to say I have now been inside one of the Great Pyramids of Egypt.
We then went to a papyrus making place. It was interesting to see how they made it, essentially the same way as originally a few thousand years ago. Then we grabbed a massive lunch of great Arabic meats (I also picked up a box of fruitloops-which I am enjoying now) We finished off the day with a lecture on Egyptian courts from a D.A. who is responsible for taking down government officials in bribery/extortion cases of over 1 million pounds. That evening we went to the traditional Arabic symphony. On the bus ride back, our driver was belting the soundtrack from Sound of Music.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

Monday 5/17/8:00pm CST Made it to O’Hare. Sitting in the international terminal now. In Chicago, someone decided it was brilliant to not have a single restaurant in the international terminal after security. People’s last stand in America, some of them for the rest of their lives, but they can’t even get a damn McDonalds cheeseburger! So I had planned to eat dinner here. No go, save for the expensive snack items. It is an eclectic group sitting around here. We look very different to begin with, but at least we are all Drake students. Majors and ages differ widely which is nice as I am not with the same folks as classes.
The flight is going to be just under 11 hours. This may be the longest jaunt I have ever done. Istanbul airport ought to be really entertaining. I am sitting next to one of my friends, which will make this flight pretty nice. I have full intentions of falling asleep though.
Dr. Cadd is bringing his family with. His daughter is really cute. The young girl is very lucky to have such an experience at her age. I think the first time I went overseas was with the French club in 10th grade. It was good training for things like this. Somewhere over the Atlantic when I wake up I will hopefully come up with something more interesting to read.
We are parked next to an Air Lingus plane bound for Dublin. The setting sun was right over the tail and greatly illuminated the cloud soaked sky in a crimson color. It was a great ending to a long day…Red Sky at Night, Sailor Delight. I will soon be sailing amongst the clouds on to the next great adventure.

Tuesday 5/18/10 8:00pm Istanbul Airport
The plane ride was great. I had some sleeping pills which worked pretty well. When I was awake, the Turkish airlines flight provided lots of entertainment. Everyone had audio and video on demand. Imagine our own personal dvd as well as Ipod that could be called up whenever you felt the urge. It took me a few tries to get through Master and Commander due to sleep but it was worth it. There was also a constantly supply of free drinks (all forms-which doesn’t mix well with sleep meds so I didn’t bother.) However once we got to our 6 hour layover, I could have a beer as Turkey’s laws are 18 (I think, we were not actually carded). We also planned out our “duty free” purchases upon our return flight. One of the shops had plenty of samples of Turkish Delight, which is a finger dessert that is pretty good.
I am really excited to get to Egypt. It will only be a 2 or 3 hour flight. The team is working well. I am right outside of a starbucks (which doesn’t have free Wi-fi so I am not sure when I can post all this. They are playing Ray Charles “You don’t know me.” It is pretty cool and I am sure a step above the “Istanbol was Constantinople” rendition some of the more musically eclectic of our team was singing earlier.
Anyways back to Egypt: we get in at two in the morning, sleep for a few hours then head to the museums. It will be nice to get right into it, but I am a little worried about jetlag. I am mostly excited for a shower. The last one I had was more than 24 hours ago as it is currently noon Tuesday at home. We are 8 hours ahead for the whole trip. Going to try to get some airport sleep (which is only slightly below dorm futon sleep). See you in the morning.

I am posting this after having been in Egypt for a whole day, I just haven't had the time to write about it. Shortlist: Saw the Pyramids (which we will be touring tomorrow), saw King Tut's mask/tons of other stuff at the Museum, and had dinner...on the Nile River, Hookah included.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

See the Pyramids along the Nile

Back in the saddle again! This Bulldog, after an almost two year stateside stint, is once again going to be abroad. I am once again returning to the sandbox that is the Middle East. This time I am staying in Egypt for 3 weeks. I am going with Drake, and am really excited!
Two of my favorite professors, Dr. Hamad, and Dr. Cadd are leading the trip. We will be taking two classes while there, one of Islam and politics, as well as a general Modern Egypt class. This is going to be very different than my last trips to the region. The last two was more spent on Arabic, whereas this will be more from the international relations side, as well as country specific study. The stress of leading will be greatly reduced too.
I am most excited for what Egypt has to offer. Jordan is great, but is generally a side trip for those coming to Egypt and Israel. It has always been a dream of mine to see the Pyramids as well as the Nile river (cue the song You Belong to Me: See the pyramids along the Nile, watch the sunrise on a tropic isle.)
As we close in on the trip I will be providing more, as well as in-country reporting. Sorry for my absence in the past, but this will hopefully wet your appetite again.
All Drake bloggers are compensated for their time. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Drake University.